Refresh Your Heart

This past weekend, my wife and I decided to go on a road trip. In December, we went to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon, and we had the idea to go back. You see, they had a Festival of the Arts event at Epcot, and we were bummed we might miss it. My wife then said, why don’t we go? So, we decided to pick a weekend and drive down to Florida. It’s always awesome to go on a road trip, you have lots of time laughing and goofing off in the car. Singing songs at the top of your lungs (whether you know the words or not), having those moments of needing to pee and not seeing a rest stop anywhere, and munching on whatever food you brought (shout out to peanut butter sandwiches). Time feels slow and fast all at the same time, and it’s a great experience. There are often moments where you have to fill up on gas, sometimes you are stretched to see how long you can go without stopping or praying a gas station will be there soon, either way, you gotta fill up. If you don’t, you could end up getting stuck.

What’s funny is we understand this idea on a road trip, but when it comes to our heart, we run it into the ground.

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Loved

I love powerful storytelling. I’m a big fan of books and movies because of the stories they can tell. I love stories, but I also really love true stories. Not so much history, but stories of people who have overcome and made something incredible. I’ve recently been reading a lot more, and it’s so interesting to see people’s stories and how they choose to press on even when things get tough. That’s one of the best parts about the bible for me. In Christian culture, people seem to have this idea of being perfect or fitting a standard, but that’s simply not true. Last week I wrote about how God designed each of us, but sometimes it can feel like we aren’t living up to how we were designed. I feel this way a lot, you feel like you have been made for a purpose, but that I don’t add up to what I’ve been called to. I look at my brokenness and don’t see how I can be used. The fear of rejection or that I’m not good enough give me anxiety and I question how God can use me. In these moments, I have to be reminded of true stories in scripture. One of my favorite parts in the bible, is found in the book of Hebrews. Written by an unknown author (so I’ll use she/her pronouns), she writes a section known as the “by faith” section. In this part she describes people in the old testament that chose to live by faith and listen to God. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit or the sacrifice of Jesus, they simply did what they were asked. The crazy part is, each of these people she writes about are broken people. They all had their individual struggles and dealt with crazy situations, but in all of it, one thing remains true of them and remains true for you.

Despite our brokenness, God says that we are loved.

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Kill What’s Killing You

Isn’t it funny how things we love, aren’t always the best thing for us to be doing? Let me be really honest with you or a second. I love candy. I especially love gummy bears and Sour Patch Kids. For our wedding registry, I thought it would be really funny if we put our favorite candy on it to see if people would buy us some. At our shower, I opened up the best gift ever, two five-pound bags of Sour Patch Kids. I was in heaven, and I had no self-control. I at the majority of one of the bags in one night, in one sitting. I immediately regretted this later on when my stomach had this tight feeling to it. Now, why did I bring up this moment? I shared this because many of us suffer from a lack of controlling things in our lives. This can be like the things we eat, the things we watch, our emotions; anything that can alter the way we act. The way we act and respond to others, generally reflects the attitude of our heart; our identity. This all might not make sense, or connect right away, but that’s one of my favorite ways to write. Big concepts that don’t seem to fit, funneled together to help us learn more about ourselves. In this season of resolutions and new habits, combined with my reading through Gideon, I want to talk about how to kill the masters of your life. I want to talk about how to kill what’s killing you.

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Fighting Through Fear

October is my favorite. It’s a season for jackets, pumpkins, and spooky movies. Some people have negatively questioned my love of spooky things, but these spooky things have helped me cope with a lot of fear I had as a kid. We often give fear too much power, and Christians are especially guilty of this. In an attempt to turn away from sin, we decided to fear the “other,” choosing to stick to ourselves in our comfort zones; we have begun to fear the people that need to hear our message the most. We see people that are different, and we fear them, we fear that their influence will be “bad” for us, so we just avoid them all together. This is a mindset we have to fight because we are called to “fear not.” Joshua in the bible faced bigger things than many of us will, and God told him over and over to have no fear, to trust God and he would give him victory over his fear. This month is coming to an end, and I have been talking about how the enemy uses fear to try and bring us down. I like to fight back fear, because to fight means that we are active, and we must actively combat fear.

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My Battle with Anxiety

The Wolf Man. One of the classic Universal Pictures monsters, a man with a curse, every full moon, he transforms into a werewolf. Howling at the moon and out for blood, a battle he fights to regain control of his poor mind. This is a trope in horror fiction, the Jekyll and Hyde concept, normal person fighting a raging monster inside. This month I’ve been looking at old tropes from horror and looking at how God has used them to teach me, and in turn, teach you. This week, I wanted to talk about something very personal to me, something that I’ve alluded to in the past and on this blog, but never fully talked about. Today I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the creature that tries to control me. One that has tried to hold me back. It’s not a wolf bite; I want to talk about my battle with anxiety.

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Surround Yourself with Safe People

As we continue our series of lessons from horror, I want to look at something important that we don’t take nearly as serious. Mental health is something that is becoming more and more of a conversation, and that’s a good thing. There has been a stigma surrounding it for so long, people being afraid to open up that there seems to be something off, people like me. For a long time, I have struggled with anxiety, and haven’t always felt able to talk. My family and wife are the ones who have helped me be open and able to talk. They are safe people. This is a term that many have heard when it comes to mental health, find safe people to be open with. It can be hard to find these safe people, but we need to realize that having community is so vital, no matter what you may be going through. The sad thing is, many of us choose poorly. We choose negative influences over the positives, because we have an enemy working against us. This is a topic I talk about with students and kids about, because negative influences can lead us into some dark spots. God has designed us for community, so find a safe one.

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Made New

I’ve recently been in a fog. I’ve never really had writer’s block, which is something pretty amazing after the past four years of writing here. I was contemplating not doing a post this week, I missed my early Patreon post schedule and was about ready to just take a week off. Then I realized that there was a mix of circumstance and spiritual attack. Last week I ended one of my favorite series I’ve written, all about having spiritual victory. It seems only fitting to then the next week fight some spiritual attack. This season in life has also been super busy, each day seems to be filled with projects, planning, and small moments of rest in the evenings. Spending time with Danielle and my family has really been the biggest driver keeping me from not getting lost. In this season of busyness, my quiet times are often rushed and not as filling as I usually have. In times like this, I feel inadequate. That I’m not doing enough or feeling like I’m not good enough. I can start to internalize this, and then everything that happens around me just hits again and again, with the whispers of “I’m not good enough,” plague me. I want to be open because I think often we have days like this. We feel like we are overlooked, that we aren’t living up to our potential, or because one bad day will cause us to fail. The truth is, we aren’t made to work enough to be used by God, we are simply people made new through the love of God.

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Spiritual Victory: Abide

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

John 15:4

I’ve been feeling angry recently. Not at a person or a certain event, just a general anger that has been bubbling underneath the surface. I’ve been frustrated with my plan, and that’s the root of it, my plan. It might be easy to miss what I mean, but it’s the truth. I sometimes fall back onto my plan, what I think is best for the current state of my life and my life moving forward. Things aren’t unfolding the way I would want it to, and that’s frustrating, but I need to redirect my focus. I’ve been focusing on the things that have or have not yet happened to me, and how that doesn’t fit in with the way I wanted my story to play out. The truth is, there is a mad titan messing with my head, telling me it’s all about me, I need to know the battle plan of the enemy, and I need to remember that there is a God bigger than my faults who knows my name. What I just referenced was what I have been writing on for the past month. I’ve been writing it because I believed it’s what you, dear reader, needed to hear. What I have come to realize is that it wasn’t simply just for you, but for me as well.

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Spiritual Victory: It’s Not About Me.

May is Mental Health Month. This is something near and dear to my heart, both as I have suffered from anxiety and depression, as well as countless people in my life that have dealt with similar mental health struggles. It’s important to shine a light on mental health, because for far too long people have been scared to open up and get the help that they need. I think as Christ followers, we need to realize that often mental health is tied into spiritual health. I’m not saying that if you struggle with mental health issues that your spiritual walk with Christ is lacking, I would be foolish to insinuate that. For the most part though, I do believe that mental health can be used against us as we try to grow closer in our walks with Christ. We often feel the most pressure and mental attack when we are on the path God has set out for us. As we walk in the giftedness that God has equipped us with and fight towards reaching the world, that same mad titan that we talked about last week (check it out here), begins to switch up his tactic. If he can’t bring us down by a storm, he’ll try his best with a whisper. “You’re not good enough.” “That test defines who you are.” “What they say about you is true.” The father of lies (John 8:44), these thoughts, they can so easily take root and begin to choke out all life, but they have no power over our great God. These thoughts that are whispered in our minds can disrupt our progress, and the truth is, we need to realize that it’s not about us.

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In the Belly of the Beast

Some of my favorite descriptions of words, phrases, and grammar come from Lemony Snicket. I gushed about his books a couple weeks ago, so check it out if you haven’t. One of the descriptions he talks of is the saying, “in the belly of the beast.” It speaks of a figurative feeling one gets when in the middle of an unfortunate circumstance, but in scripture, there is a literal event where one particular individual is in, “the belly of the beast.” Jonah was a man who God called for a great mission, but he trusted his own power and not God’s. Because of this, he believed he could not accomplish it, so he ran. Isn’t that a perfect picture of what we do in our own lives? I’m a victim of it, we have a situation we think we can’t overcome, so we run, we retreat from the promise on the other side of facing great peril. The truth is, we rely too much on our own strength when we should be trusting God. We have a God who created the universe and loves us. You’re right thinking you can’t get through it, but God can. No matter what you’re facing, God can. The calling that looks too big? God can. The mountain in your life? God can. When it feels like the world is against you and there is no hope? God can. We can learn much from Jonah, we can learn how to act in the belly of the beast.

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